Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 24:
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh today told the Odisha Assembly that leaders of all political parties, not just the ruling party, used to visit Sarathi Baba.
Replying to the adjournment motion ‘Baba Maya Re Baya Sarkar O Police’ on the Srimad Sarathi Baba issue moved by the Opposition on behalf of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Arukh told the House that the government is protecting none and action is being taken against all. He said action had already been taken against the former Kendrapara SP, who has been suspended and investigations have begun into the properties acquired by his wife.
Accusing the ruling party leaders of close links with Sarathi Baba, Congress MLA from Aul Devendra Sharma said former Aul MLA Pratap Dev had provided money from his MLA LAD funds for construction of a community centre in the name of the Baba and a branch office of the Baba. He alleged that the Baba’s ashram had virtually turned into the BJD party office.
Another issue that came up for discussion during the debate was how a television channel owned by BJD’s Kendrapara MP promoted Sarathi Baba. Opposition members wanted to know how much money was taken by the channel owner to promote the Baba and asked why the MP was not being brought into the purview of the investigation.
Earlier in the day, the House was adjourned till noon by Speaker Niranjan Pujari as Opposition members created noisy scenes demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister over the Prakash Mishra issue. The Question Hour was washed out for the fifth consecutive day today as Opposition persisted with their demand for a discussion on the former DGP issue.
The debate was still on at the time this report was posted.
After four successive days of pandemonium, normalcy had returned to the House on Saturday afternoon following an all-party meeting convened by the Speaker where both sides agreed to cooperate in the smooth functioning of the House. It was decided at the meeting that banners and posters would not be carried inside the members by members. It was also decided at the meeting that the House would debate different issues concerning the state in phases.
“Today several important questions like on 14th Finance Commission were listed for discussion during Question Hour. There were questions on several other important issues too. I feel the commitments given by the Opposition at the all-party meeting on Saturday have been violated. Traditions have been broken. I feel the Opposition should reconsider its stand and cooperate in the proceedings of the House,” senior BJD leader and chief spokesperson of the party Amar Satpathy told reporters after the House was adjourned.
“We will continue with our protests in the House till the Prakash Mishra issue is taken up for discussion. At the same time, we will also cooperate on important matters concerning the interest of the state,” said Narasingh Mishra, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.
“We had agreed at the all-party meeting that we would not carry banners and posters inside the House. But we had said we will raise important issues concerning the state during the Question Hour. We supported the Congress on the Prakash Mishra and Sarathi Baba issue raised by them,” said Pradip Purohit of the BJP.